Author Topic: December 7, 1993 - A Very Somber Day In Long Island History  (Read 1359 times)

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December 7, 1993 - A Very Somber Day In Long Island History
« on: December 07, 2011, 09:08:01 pm »
From the New York Times archives:

Published: December 8, 1993

A taciturn gunman opened fire without warning inside a crowded Long Island Rail Road train during rush hour yesterday, killing at least five people and wounding 19 others, the police said.

The gunfire erupted as the train neared the Merillon Avenue station in Garden City shortly after 6 P.M., when the man entered the train's third car and walked backward down the aisle, looking into the eyes of passengers as he shot one after another with his 9-millimeter handgun. As passengers screamed, diving to the floor, the man calmly emptied his gun, reloaded it and began shooting again. He did not utter a word, witnesses said.

The man, a New York City resident whose name was not released by 1:45 this morning, was eventually tackled by a passenger, who held him down with the help of two others. The man had fired more than 30 shots. Passengers Hysterical>

An off-duty Long Island Rail Road police officer, who was at the station to meet his wife, ran onto the train and made the arrest, said Chief Mel Kenny of the Nassau County police.

Chief Kenny said it was not clear what prompted the man, who boarded the train in Penn Station and rode quietly for more than 30 minutes, to start shooting. There were nearly 100 passengers in the car. When the train finally stopped at the Merillon Avenue station, about two minutes after the man had begun shooting, the doors did not open immediately, and passengers banged on them hysterically, yelling at a conductor at the far end of the car. Once the doors opened after what seemed an eternity to several of them, the passengers fled in horror, many of them bleeding from gunshot wounds and some collapsing on the grass and pavement, witnesses said. 'Bing, Bing, Bing'

The victims of the shooting were not immediately identified. Four died on the train, and a fifth died on the way to a hospital, the police said. Early this morning, four of the 19 wounded were listed in critical condition at various hospitals.

To riders on the train, most of whom boarded at 5:33 P.M. in Penn Station for what, at first, appeared to be an ordinary trip home, it was an unforgettable sight that began without any warning.

"He was just going bing, bing, bing, left to right, left to right," said Kevin McHugh, a Consolidated Edison manager from New Hyde Park, L.I., who was about six seats away when the gunman opened fire.

Susan McGowan, a spokeswoman for the L.I.R.R., said that the shooting was the worst tragedy at the railroad that anyone could remember. In addition to the 19 wounded, two people were seriously hurt after being trampled.

The shooting occurred at the height of the evening rush, when passengers who could not get seats crammed the center aisle.

"It looked kind of fake. It happened really quick," said Paul Basile, a passenger. "I thought it was probably kids with firecrackers. All of a sudden it's the real thing. A lot of people were standing up because the train was pulling into the station.

"I saw the smoke and people were shot right around me," Mr. Basile said. "People were diving for the floor. They didn't open the train doors for some reason. I don't know if the train was fully stopped. It was kind of stopped. People were trying to get off. It was a crowded car. It was just crazy."

Ms. McGowan said that service was suspended on the Oyster Bay, Port Jefferson and Ronkonkoma lines from 6:15 until 7:25 P.M. because of the shooting, and that there were two-hour delays throughout the railroad. Service is expected to return to normal for today's morning rush, and L.I.R.R. personnel will be on hand at major stations to answer questions about the shooting, she said.

In Mineola, at the Nassau County Police Headquarters, the homicide squad took statements from about 40 witnesses, many of them in shock, who had been shuttled over in two schoolbuses from the station. The interviews went late into the night, and one by one they left the building, escorted by the police. Some were in tears, all were dazed.

Confronted by a small army of television cameras, they walked like ghosts past the reporters and disppeared quickly into the night.

Before you start your session, let us pause and remember those who perished on this day. May they rest in peace.

« Last Edit: December 07, 2011, 09:12:01 pm by Port Washington Local »